Pamela D. Eliowitz
May 28, 2012
Personal Impact: A Patient Living with COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a Chronic and progressive illness that affects a person’s ability to breath. The affects to breathing occur due to obstructive airways caused by production of mucous from continuous inflammation and by constrictive airways caused by the narrowing of the bronchial tubes from spasms, scar tissue, reactive airways, infections of the lung, and the continuous response to irritating substances within the environment. Pollution, smoking, and other irritating substances cause the negative and damaging cascade of events that follow. The disease affects a large majority of people. It is the 5th leading cause of mortality currently. The World Health Organization predicts that COPD will rise to the 3rd leading cause of death by 2030 (WHO, 2007, p. 27). In the BMC Public Health Journal, they estimate that this disease affects 210 million people now. The following discusses the Impact the disease has on a person on a social, financial, and personal level. The information obtained by use of several videos, of people who shared their stories about living with and affected by COPD.
COPD and the Social Implications
Each person from the impact videos verbalized changes in their activity level. Betty mentioned that she used to love to dance and now she is barely able to move her feet. Norma loves to garden and clean her home; since her diagnosis she no longer can clean her home or garden; she finds it more challenging to go grocery shopping as the disease progresses. Therefore, she resorts to enlisting the services from a vast support network of people. This includes her friends, family, neighbors, and professionals. This disease has played a large ubiquitous role in her life. Lack of interest in usual activities appears to be a common theme each shared, in large part due to fatigue and difficulty breathing.
Simpson and Rocker (2008) address the financial aspects of this disease by stating, “Severe exacerbations of COPD that lead to unscheduled visits/admissions to hospital result in the significant economic burden associated with the disease—about $10 billion in the US in 2003.” The cost of the disease has affected all of these individuals, and Norma mentions that she had an exacerbation of her disease twice in the past year that put her in the hospital. She takes many medications and says, “It is a daily chore that she hates,” but because she cares about her health, she does it. The World Health Organization mentions the toll that this disease will have on a National Level alone. Fletcher (2010) states, “Nearly 1 in 5 of 45-68 year olds are forced to retire prematurely due to the condition, thereby incurring increased health costs and reducing personal contribution from taxation”(p. 1). In addition, the individual facing limitations on medical insurance have out-of-pocket-costs for drugs, supplies, oxygen, and assistance from various sources. Medical costs for re-hospitalizations, multiple medical appointments, and their related co-pays increase these expenses. The lack of employment because of the disability this disease creates, all play a pivotal role in the patient’s financial resources, or lack thereof.
Simpson & Rocker (2008) discuss the social impact of this disease, “Social Isolation due to disease progression poses a problem for these patients, as it limits their mobility, increasing their homebound status and a common desire to avoid breathlessness” (p. 1). “As COPD progresses to advanced stages, it tends to impose a growing social isolation as individuals become virtually housebound due to increasing immobility and a common desire to avoid...